Does Adam Selman really need an introduction? He's had a hand in creating costumes for everyone from Britney Spears to Dolly Parton, counts Rihanna as his top client and defies convention with his genius RTW line… We talk to the designer ahead of his new season show at New York Fashion Week...
ON HOW IT ALL BEGAN...
I moved to Brooklyn from a small town in Texas when I was 18 to attend Pratt Institute. I studied fashion there, and worked full time doing retail and interning. I was very eager and excited to be in the city and feel independent. I met Zaldy Golco and interned for him while I was studying. I ended up going on to work with him for ten years. He became a friend and mentor to me. He showed me a side of fashion I hadn't thought of, or even realised existed. It was a magical time for me. Through the years I worked with Zaldy I became a freelance pattern maker, handyman, and jack-of-all-trades. I travelled the world for two years, touring with the Scissor Sisters, art directed a craft book with the Amazing Amy Sedaris, worked on a Dolly Parton video, created countless props for movies... Anything that came my way, seemed exciting and could pay my rent, I said yes to. Through that, I’ve had some amazing experiences, and met some incredible people.
ON ALWAYS BEING PASSIONATE ABOUT CLOTHES
We didn't have a lot of money or fancy stores nearby growing up, but I was always wearing a look. Always! My parents were very supportive and let me be creative. I think in 4th or 5th grade I carried a walking stick and wore a poncho to school for weeks, my parents were probably mortified, but they didn’t show it. When I was 10, and decided I had to have a vest and it had to be striped, there were no questions asked. My mom took the opportunity to teach me how to sew, and we made the vest together. I think that sealed the deal...
ON TAKING THE LEAP FROM COSTUME DESIGN TO RTW
I needed a new challenge. Creating custom looks and costume creations was extremely rewarding, but I knew I needed to change things up, mostly for me. I like to work hard, challenge myself and see how far I am able to push the limits. Creating my own line just seemed like the right decision, and it definitely was.
ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH RIHANNA
Mel Ottenberg was asked to style Rihanna on her LOUD world tour. We had been dating for 2 years and he brought me in to help consult since I had worked on a lot of live shows and he was more of an editorial stylist at the time. It wasn’t supposed to continue, but it did. I really had fun making clothes for Rihanna, and Mel and I could talk about ideas for hours and hours. She was always so excited to see my pieces on a rack. There would be 10 racks of clothes in a room and she always seemed to go straight for the pieces I had made when she could have worn anything. As a designer that’s the ultimate flattery and I always challenged myself to make sure I got that reaction from her at each fitting.
ON HIS STARTING POINTS FOR AW15
I was actually inspired by cleaning out an old box of arts and crafts scraps. Bows, gingham, ricrac… But I didn’t want to do it in a literal way. I was watching John Waters’ “Female Trouble” and I started thinking about how he spoofs American culture and turns up the volume. I wanted to do the same with my clothes; spoof the American arts and craft elements into something playful and wearable. And with a John Waters kitschy bad-girl twist of course.
ON BEING CREATIVE ON DEMAND
I love being creative with a deadline. There’s something about the pressure and the split second decisions; I thrive on creating something beautiful in those moments.
ON WHAT’S INSPIRING HIM NEXT SEASON
There was a nudist commune called Taylor Camp in Kauai, Hawaii in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Something about finding spirituality, freedom and comfort all surrounded by nature’s vivid colors is where my mind is at right now.
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRE & RTW
Since it was my first pre season I wanted to experiment with stripping away the gimmicks and try to make it a little slicker. In a way, it was my most experimental. I wanted to see what buyers would respond to and I tried to give more of how I dress myself everyday, but in a more feminine form.
ON THE PERKS OF THE JOB
I am living my dream. I don’t come from a lot money, but I was always pushed and encouraged to find my own way, carve my own path. I think living my dream, working hard with a team I love, and running a business with standards and morals is the biggest perk.
ON NEW YORK
I moved to New York when I was 18, so it feels like part of me. I am not opposed to showing my collection elsewhere, but NYC is home. I love Greenwich Village. I live there with my boyfriend. It’s a dream come true. It’s so central to everything. I like exploring the city though; each neighborhood has something special and unique to offer. I want to explore the Bronx a little more, maybe this fall…
ON BALANCING WORK & LIFE
I am still working on that. It’s very real running my own business… I think having ambitious friends who are supportive and also creative make it worthwhile. I like being ambitious and working hard. The city drives me, and I would rather live here doing what I want to do rather than rest on my laurels and not challenge myself almost everyday. I could move somewhere prettier and less exciting and do that.
This summer, it was all about my friend Rebecca’s backyard. She moved into a new apartment that has a huge backyard. In NYC, it’s a rare thing to have an outdoor space. A group of friends made it a goal to hang out in the backyard and tan at least once a week. It was all about seeing who could get the most savage tan.